Day 18 Lucy March – Rejecting the Premise

Why Do We Have to Say Romance Matters?

A Little Night Magic

The topic of this month is Romance Matters. I keep trying to tackle it in a way that’s fun and light and entertaining, but every time I start, I end up writing this angry screed about how women are made to feel ashamed of what they read, a phenomenon that makes my ears smoke. And then I delete everything because I don’t want to send a message that what’s going on here this month is anything less than awesome, and I don’t want to come charging in here on my big, feminist horse (her name is Betty, by the way, and she kicks ass) ranting about the fact that no one comes up to a man at a party and asks him how it feels to write trash.

So, I keep deleting everything and starting over, and I end up hauling myself onto Betty’s back again, chip on my shoulder and empowerment sword raised high, ready to Let It Be Known Far and Wide that no one should ever make you feel ashamed of what you read.

Crap. I did it again. Let me rear Betty up and stable her for a bit, and try to figure out why it is that I can’t come into this topicwithout going into a fit.

I think it’s because we have to say that romance matters. If I have to say out loud that romance matters, it means that the default supposition is that it doesn’t, and that’s where I lose my mind. Then I feel defensive, and I have to say why it matters, I have to explain that there are amazing writers out there telling meaningful stories about emotion and human nature and the meaning of life, and there are, but that isn’t why romance matters.

It matters because you like it. It matters because I like it. And that’s it.

That’s enough.

Crazy in Love

To say “Romance Matters,” makes me feel like that I’m acknowledging and accepting that romance is somehow different from any other genre and that while we don’t have to say that Mystery Matters or Thrillers Matter or Literary Fiction Matters, we do have to say out loud that Romance Matters, because somewhere deep down, we’ve internalized and accepted this nonsense that, by default, it doesn’t. And then there’s the idea that it doesn’t matter because it’s written predominantly by women, predominantly for women, and women are made to feel like we don’t matter because misogyny is woven into the damn fabric of our culture and…

Well, hell. I’m on the horse again. How did that happen? Well, fine. Obviously there’s no way out of this but through, so let me raise my sword and throw this stupid chip off my shoulder and say this:

I reject the premise.

I reject the premise that romance doesn’t matter, and I reject the premise that anyone should be ashamed of what they read, ever. I reject the premise that fiction written for women is somehow lesser than any other kind of fiction, and I reject the premise that it needs defending.

Reading matters. Engaging in story matters. Living every minute of your life authentically and never being ashamed of who you are and what you like matters. What you’re doing, what you think, and who you are right now in this moment matters, and everything else, pardon my French, is of the bullshit.

I’m sorry. I apologize. There are going to be ninety-two other smart authors who are going to come out here this month and say amazing things about romance and why it matters and nothing I’m saying today should take anything away from any of them. I just want it said that romance matters no more or less than any story, and it matters for the same reason that any story matters; because engaging in story in any form feeds the soul.

It really is that simple.

And now I need to go feed my horse.

(Lucy March is another pen name of bestselling author Lani Diane Rich.)

Recommendations:

Nan Reinhardt is an author who recognizes that a woman’s life doesn’t end at forty. For years, while editors loved her fiction, they kept insisting she make her heroines younger, and it was tough. I love her work, and have personally talked her into going out on her own and releasing her novels independently, because I believe it’s important that women who are still alive in this world, no matter what age they are, have the opportunity to read about women like them, women who are living vibrant, important lives and still engaging with romance, love and sex. Her books are releasing this fall, and they’re fantastic; I can’t recommend her enough. Like her Facebook page, and you’ll be the first to know when the books hit the market.


Questions for Lucy:

What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?

Lucy's Angel

I’m not a keeper of things, generally. I’ve moved a lot in my adult life, and the consequence of that is that you have to throw things away. There is one crazy item in my house that I keep because it’s also made entirely of awesome. For my thirty-ninth birthday, Jennifer Crusie and my kids decorated a three-foot tall wooden angel, covering it with bright colors and polka dots and decoupaging it with the best quotes from reviews and readers. It’s wild. I love it. Not just because it’s bright and fancy and has polka dots, and not just because it’s got flattering things to say about me, but because it was made with such love, and to this day, it’s the biggest deal anyone has made over my birthday, ever. Every time I see it, it tells me how loved I am, and I will carry it with me, everywhere I go, until the day I die. And then, the kids get it and it’s their problem. :)

If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?)

White Wine and Polka Dots. Sara Rue would play me, but mostly because I’ve always wanted to look like Sara Rue.

What is the best non-monetary gift you ever received?

Sorry to give the same answer to two questions, but it’s that crazy angel.

If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be? (Any picks for romance novels in general?)

I only have one book out as Lucy March, so for those books, it’d be the opening scene with Liv and Tobias from A Little Night Magic. For my Lani Diane Rich books, the scene with EJ and Luke after the wedding in A Little Ray of Sunshine. For readers of romance in general, it’s the confession scene between Tilda and Davy in Jennifer Crusie’s Faking It.


You are reading this essay at ReadARomanceMonth.com. Be sure to visit the About Read-A-Romance Month to learn more, or the Authors & Contributors page to see a list of all the great romance writers who are participating in celebrating the romance genre during the month of August.  Also visit the Awesome Contests page to see how you can register each week to win “A Month of Romance” (31 books), e-readers, and even the Grand Central Grand Prize, an iPad mini. If you love romance, then this is the place to be!

Lucy is generously donating one copy of A LITTLE NIGHT MAGIC to U.S. reader (U.S. only, apologies to international readers.). U.S. readers, to enter, either leave a comment here or enter the weekly drawing on the contest page. Or both.  (Only one entry per commenter per post, though – multiple comments on one essay does not give you more chances.)  Comment entries must be posted by 11:59pm EST Aug 18 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.


Lucy March

Lucy March is the pseudonym of NYT bestselling author Lani Diane Rich. She lives in Central New York with her husband and daughters, and teaches storytelling at Syracuse University. She also co-hosts the weekly storytelling podcast, StoryWonk Sunday, with her husband, Alastair Stephens.

 

Buy Lucy’s Books on Amazon or on Barnes & Noble

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  • Nancy Huddleston

    Thank you for getting on Betty. You are so right about romance feeding your soul. I love that. I dislike when people make fun of romance writers and their fans. We are awesome. I shouldn’t have to defend my choice of reading material. My horse is Bob.

    • Lucy March

      I like Bob. That’s a good solid name for a horse, Nancy. :)

      • http://www.readaromancemonth.com/ Bobbi Dumas

        Agreed! Thanks so much for the great essay and for being here. Really, really appreciate it! Can’t wait for your next book. xoxo

  • mariannewestrich

    Romance also takes us away from our day-to-day and gives us somewhere else to go! Love that! And I’m headed to feed my kittens! 8-)

    • Lucy March

      Smooch the kittens for me!

  • Kim Cornwell

    I’ll stand up too! ROMANCE MATTERS! I’m a romanceaholic( my new word)! I read all romance and I’m not ashamed! I hate when someone says its trashy! We all have romance and fantasies in our lives whether we acknowledge it or not! I would love to read your books! Love meeting new authors. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Lucy March

      Good for you, Kim. Great to meet you!

  • Melanie Backus

    Keep feeding that horse and keep writing those books!

    • Lucy March

      Thanks, Melanie! I will!

  • Bette Hansen

    I couldn’t agree with you more…romance matters and no one should have to say it. It shouldn’t matter what you are reading as long as you are reading…isn’t that what we teach our kids. At least I did.

    • Lucy March

      Right! And never be ashamed of our reading material, because kids learn more from what we do than what we say.

  • Ketta Peters

    I have all your Lani Diane Rich books (and love the 3 I’ve read), so now I’ve wish-listed your Lucy March book. You are a wonderful writer, and apparently a great rider and sword handler!

    • Lucy March

      Thank you, Ketta! I hope you enjoy the book! :)

  • rebecca moe

    I loved A Little Night Magic! I won an ARC, and then got it on audio too. And shared with my daughter. Your Loni books are on my TBR list–I’m slowly getting all of them, in one format or another. Give Betty a pat for me :)

    • Lucy March

      Thanks so much, Rebecca! I’m glad you liked the books. Betty gives you a big neigh of thanks for the pat. ;)

      • rebecca moe

        BTW, I mentioned to my daughter that you were posting today, and she said, “Oh! I loved that book!” We ‘re both hoping you write more in that universe :)

        Thanks for writing!

  • Jordan H

    This books phenomenal and I can’t wait to read it. I love your perspective on writing romance :)

  • Karen Scott

    I loved your essay. I used to have the same problem when someone would ask why I waste my time reading romance books, but with age I have realized that other’s opinions on my reading habits have no meaning in my life. So, I have now put my “Betty” out to pasture and used the extra time I have gained not having to tend her with reading another story. :)

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    Romance does matter. Thanks for getting on Betty to stand up for it. :)

  • Meredith Richardson

    I’ve read a bunch of your Lani Diane Rich books and loved them, I looking forward to check out your other books :D

  • Karin Anderson

    I think we all have our own “Betty” in our lives. Sometimes we can manage to avoid using her, but others we just have to stand up and shout.

  • Jen C

    “Reading matters. Engaging in story matters.” – Oh, yeah! I liked what you had to say. It is frustrating, especially as an academic (in the humanities no less!), to have colleagues look at me funny when I tell them my favorite books are romances. I mean, come on people, you’ve fought for pop culture to be taken seriously, for graphic novels to be taken seriously, but romance still gets a bad rep? Ok, not from EVERYONE, but too many. Sorry, I’ll put Betty back. Thanks for letting me borrow her for a bit. Happy reading all! :)

    • Dawn

      Jen C. You took the words right out of my mouth about other “genre” reading that has started to be treated with credibility, but what about Romance? Food for thought from Lucy’s writing that maybe because it is written primarily for women.

  • Nan Reinhardt

    Right off, wow! Thank you so much for the shout-out, baby! You are the best! And yes, a thousand times, yes to everything you said here! When I tell people I’m an author, I sometimes find myself replying sheepishly, “I write romance” when they naturally ask, “What do you write?” But interestingly, yesterday, I met some people while I was out beer-tasting with Son, and instead of being apologetic, I smiled and said, “I write romance.” The smile started an hour-long conversation about romance and books in general that ended with me passing out my card to a bunch of enthusiastic, curious readers. YAY!! So your article is not only wondrous, as is all your writing, but very timely for me. Thanks and I can’t wait for the new Lucy March novel, plus it’s a StoryWonk day today!!! Double win!

  • Liz Flaherty

    Oh, I loved this, and loved Nan’s shoutout–she’s a favorite; everybody read her!–and I think your angel is great.

  • Ann Mettert

    “Reading matters. Engaging in story matters. Living every minute of your life authentically and never being ashamed of who you are and what you like matters. What you’re doing, what you think, and who you are right now in this moment matters, and everything else, pardon my French, is of the bullshit.”
    Oh, yeah. What you said. :)

  • Kathy Altman

    Yes! This! Fabulous essay, Lucy! I didn’t realize you were teaching at Syracuse–good for you! Please don’t include me in the drawing–I already have a copy of ALNM and am chomping at Betty’s bit for That Touch of Magic. :-) That angel is gorgeous–yes, you are loved.

  • brhill2010

    I love Jennifer Crusie, she is an amazing author. I understand why you are mad at people but I think all the authors this month say the same thing like you do. They relay to the readers why they defend the romance genre. I am happy that authors like you are standing up to defend the romance genre.

  • Renee N

    I completely agree! I only discovered the fantastic world of reading for pleasure in 2007. All other reading was done on a necessary basis – blech! It gives me joy, it gives me relaxation and it feeds me heart and soul. I’m a reader of Romantic Comedies/Romance books, and I’m damn proud of it. I also agree with your answers to the best romantic scenes, but there’s no way I could have narrowed it down to just those. My list is endless and ever growing. Great post Lucy! I miss reading your words! And if anyone out here has not read A Little Ray of Sunshine, I urge you to do it! You will not be disappointed.

  • Anne

    Thank you for the enjoyable essay. You are correct, Reading Matters!!!

  • Carrie Marie

    YES! you & Betty both rock. :)

  • Beth Re

    In my humble opinion you can get up on Betty any time you would like :)

  • Patty Vasquez

    I agree with you 100%: women shouldn’t have to defend themselves and their choice of reading material. Ever. This isn’t really an accurate comparison, but do we ever ask men to justify their football craziness? Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE football. I play catch with my students, I toss the ball with my husband, I even watch it occasionally. But the over-the-top Monday night, all day Saturday and Sunday, and Sunday night games? Really? And don’t get me started on the male commentators in their suits and ties while the female weather reporter wears her hip-hugging jeans and crop-top cut down-to-her…. Well. My horse needs to be fed, too. Or maybe I’ll just go find a good romance to read, instead.

  • MK

    What a fabulous, fantastic, freeing essay! Thank you so much for your words! And for Betsy

  • M Kuxhaus

    Give Betty a sugar cube for me.

  • Sue G.

    I love your angel! I love color and angels and that is just perfect!

  • Dana Shoulders

    I love you riding your horse Betsy, since you trampled all over the silly preconceptions that others have and asserted our right to not let anyone make us feel less because of their own idiotic notions :).

  • Flora Segura-Buchler

    Hi Lucy/Lani,
    Brava, to you and the horse (Betty) you rode in on! I could not have said it better myself. However, you’re the writer so you did say it the best after all. I can only add for myself: I READ ROMANCE; GET USED TO IT!

  • Carrie

    I feel I should print off multiple copies of your essay and hand it to people to read anytime someone questions my choice in reading. I love romance and I shouldn’t have to constantly defend or feel defensive about reading a romance novel. Perhaps I should get a horse too to keep Betty company.

  • Mary McCoy

    I love your angel, and I think Betty deserves an extra helping of oats and a stallion of her own.

  • Kareni

    Thanks for your wonderful post, Ms. March. I look forward to reading A LITTLE NIGHT MAGIC. The library’s copy is waiting for me in the next room.

  • Ann

    Love the angel!!

  • Marcy Shuler

    *feeds Betty a carrot*
    When I was in college my grandfather lived with us. Whenever I sat near him reading a romance he always tried to shove a Reader’s Digest condensed book at me to get me to read a “real” book. I told him that if reading romance was the worst vice I had he should be happy because there were a lot more smutty things I could be doing if he’d prefer. LOL

  • Britney Adams

    Bravo to you and Betty!!

  • Beverly DeeAnjello

    The angel was a sweet and crazy gift. It’s great to have great friends and family.

  • christieMI

    Don’t apologize, you (and Betty) are great. My mama raised me not to be rude but I don’t think it took because my answers to any questions of that ilk range from “Because I like it.”; “At least I know how to read.”; “You aren’t going to ask me about my weight next, are you? Because that’s another stupid question you won’t get an answer to.” and “Well, what do you read?” Amazingly that’s a stumper because so many critical people don’t read. Oh, and their excuse is usually they’re too busy. Uh, yeah. At least you know where you are with the characters in a romance because real-life people are strange.

  • Glenda

    Give Betty a rubdown and a flake or two of alfalfa. She really doesn’t mind getting the excercise. :-)

  • MooMoo Cake

    I love your post! And both you and Betty really kick ass. Your angel is also really awesome :)

  • Joan Varner

    Thank you, Lucy/Lani! I enjoyed your essay and I hope to be able to remember what you said the next time I get the “stupid question”.

  • TrishJ

    You ride that horse!! Great post. I am definately going to check out your books.

  • QuenKne M

    Stay on Betty and make that stance for all of us women!!! You did a great job describing why romance matters. And I agree, no one should feel ashamed, least not about what they read for goodness-sakes.

  • http://www.brookeblogs.com/ Brooke Bumgardner

    Woohoo, perfect post! I love what you have to say. :) Thank you for stopping by today.

  • Larena Hubble

    You know it is funny I haven’t had someone come up to me when I am reading a romance and tell me that it isn’t real but I have had it happen when I was reading a fiction book. Go figure.

  • Rochelle

    Amen Sister!

  • Marcia Berbeza

    That angel is something else. I too would treasure something like that for the rest of my days. Lucky you!

  • leah g

    I think one of the things that I love about romance that I didn’t realize when I was young is how strong the women are. I thought they were all just waiting around not really doing anything, so it didn’t feel like it mattered because they weren’t DOING anything.
    Now of course I realize that they are intelligent and driven and not willing to be ‘put in their place,” and they are going through tough times but don’t give up and don’t just lay around waiting for someone to save them. I am definitely reformed!
    Even if I wasn’t your still right it matters because someone likes it. I don’t particularly like fantasies but they still ‘matter’ to someone.

  • Kim

    Great take on why romance matters! Betty seems like a pretty great horse.

  • Mary Anne Landers

    Thank you, Lucy. I figure you either like romance fiction or you don’t. Rather than defend it, I spend my free time reading it. And writing it!

  • Pamby50

    I look forward to reading your first book as Lucy March. I do have Crazy in Love. I have great friends who swap books all the time. That’s how I got Crazy in Love. Look forward to reading it.

  • Rowan Worth

    You do a fine job leading the charge from atop your noble steed! You’re right–we shouldn’t have to justify, but I’m loving the testimonials from everyone anyway.

  • Courtney Cogswell

    Great post and I love that your imaginary horse is named Betty. I’m loving everyone’s views on why romance matters–all have a very similar theme running throughout but there are so many different viewpoints. I get very frustrated as well when anyone makes me justify why I read romance and downplays its literary relevance. So keep on fighting the good fight with your trusty Betty while I do the same (but with my trusty unicorn, Linda). Looking forward to checking out your Lucy March novels…I’ve only read yours under Lani Diane Rich and I loved those!

  • Dawn

    I love your post! Love your “I just want it said that romance matters no more or less than any story, and it matters for the same reason that any story matters; because engaging in story in any form feeds the soul.” I get comments for reading as much as I do (across genres), from people who don’t get why I enjoy spending so much time on reading, but I get the most comments about romance. Time for me to shift the paradigm too–reject the premise that romance or story needs defending. Thanks to you and Betty!